Hurrah for British Family Theatre!

By James Robert Shaw (TheWind up Geek)

Photo by Uli Weber.

If you haven’t yet seen the Olivier Awards on ITV tonight, then read no further. But to many of you brave souls who have, I say, “Then read on!”

The 2014 Olivier Awards, so named after one of the UK’s greatest actors of the 20th century, Laurence Olivier, was hosted at Convent Garden’s famed Royal Opera House in Central London.

The who’s who of UK television, film and theatre graced the red carpet with thousands of fans lined up to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. Be they Dame Judi Dench, Arthur Darvill, Martin Freeman, Hayley Atwell or Beverley Knight, a few were fortunate to even get autographs. Some were fortunate to have autographs signed by Tom Hiddleston.

But the stars who shined the most were those who received awards for the best in theatre from London’s West End.

The first to receive an award was Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for Best Lighting Design by Paul Pyant and Jon Driscoll. Charlie is currently showing at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. This show stars Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka, Nigel Planer as Grandpa Joe, and Jack Costello, Keir Edkins-O’Brien, Oliver Finnegan and Troy Tipple in the title role of Charlie Bucket.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory also picked up an Olivier for Best Costume Design (Mark Thompson).

Kenneth Grahame’s classic The Wind In the Willows picked up the trophy for Best Entertainment and Family award. Will Tuckett took to the stage to accept the award presented by Alistair McGowan. A visually nervous Tuckett summed up his production experience best by saying, “Making good work is only possible if there are good people next to you.”

The Duchess Theatre production of Wind In the Willows was choreographed by Tuckett and starred Television’s former Time Team member Tony Robinson as the play’s Narrator, Will Kemp as Ratty, Clemmie Sveaas as Mole, and Chris Penfold as foolish Toad. The entire musical is set to a live band playing to a Martin Ward score.

Photo by Johan Persson.

And the Best New Comedy award presented by actor Martin Freeman (The World’s End, The Hobbit) went to Jeeves and Wooster at Duke of York’s Theatre. It stars Robert Webb as young playboy Bertie Wooster, Mark Heap as Wooster’s saving grace, Jeeves, and Mark Hadfield as Seppings. Original credit must go to Hadfield with Stephen Mangan and Matthew Macfadyen in the roles of Jeeves and Wooster.

Rory Kinnear won Best Actor for his title role of Iago in William Shakespeare’s Othello, beating other Shakespearian competition in the forms of Jude Law’s portrayal of Henry V and Tom Hiddleston’s Coriolanus respectively.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Les Misérables took home the Audience Award for Most Popular Show and disappointed fans of runners-up Wicked, Matilda the Musical, and Webber’s equally popular creation, The Phantom of the Opera.

With another year of the Olivier Awards wrapped up, it is important to remember that theatre will always remain a source of entertainment for people of all ages. It offers song, it offers dance, it offers laughter and also delights. But most important of all, it offers memories that will be etched forever in the minds of enthusiasts who had the priviledge of seeing them in the West End.


Author: James Robert Shaw

Making a comeback.

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